Deep Green Plans for Clearwater Commons

Need a little inspiration? Well we did! So, last Thursday we headed out to Clearwater Commons for a presentation and tour of Snohomish County’s first Low Impact Development project, hosted by the Snohomish County Sustainable Task Force. That’s right! County ‘Development’ guidelines are officially being rewritten thanks to the passion and perseverance of an amazing group of families at Clearwater Commons.

In June 2006 these families (and future homeowners) formed the Clearwater Commons LLC and purchased a 7.4 acre site on North Creek, 11 miles north of Seattle’s city limits, with the intention of creating an intentional, ecologically-responsible residential community. The inspiration for the community grew from founding members’ involvement in The Clearwater School, a democratically run Sudbury school (k-12) located across the street.

After three years of pioneering work,  Snohomish County has now given Clearwater Commons final approval to proceed with site development and building construction, which will begin this summer.  This is the first project of its kind to combine the use of comprehensive low impact development methods, intentional community values and innovative green building techniques.

Clearwater Commons

A few examples of  the “deep green”  or “low-impact” strategies planned at Clearwater Commons include the use of permeable walkways and driveway surfaces to reduce water runoff. The Commons will produce no water run-off, channeling what water doesn’t soak back into the soil naturally into a raingarden. This is in stark contrast to the original developer’s idea of placing a large retention basin on the site. Non-native plants will be then be replaced with more appropriate species already growing in an on-site nursery.

The Clearwater Commons Plan also includes a cluster of 16 homes which will be built on Pin Pile Foundations, small concrete pods that support the structure without digging down into the soil. Uncharacteristic of traditional poured concrete foundations, shallow groundwater will be able to move unhindered under the homes, thus mimicking traditional flow paths. The homes will be complete with solar panels, green roofs and a host of other deep green features.

This summer also marks the commencement of the North Creek restoration project.  This ¼ mile of environmentally-sensitive salmon habitat, which winds through both the Commons and School sites, is aptly named the Clearwater Reach of North Creek and is considered one of the best opportunities to restore salmon habitat in south Snohomish County. While engineering design and noxious weed removal has begun, grants received from Snohomish County and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will aide in the placement of in-stream structures and native plantings in the upcoming year.

Clearwater Commons is looking for new members interested in becoming future residents and active community members. For more information visit Joining Clearwater Commons.


If you’re interested in learning more about cohousing in and around Seattle, give us a call today.

Leave a Reply